From Polar Winds to Tropical Breezes
Chapter 3: Culture and Personal Characteristics for Professional Success
Miguel R. Olivas-Luján and Betty Jane Punnett If we go back 25 centuries, we ﬁnd that Herodotus, the famed Greek historian of the fourth century BC, commented on the diﬀiculties that King Darius faced because of the cultural diﬀerences between the Greeks and the Callatian Indians (Punnett and Ricks, 1997, p. 144). Today, we ﬁnd books and articles that oﬀer advice to both women and men on how to interact successfully with people from other cultures (Axtell, 1993; Axtell et al., 1997; Hall and Hall, 1990). Cultural diﬀerences and the issues engendered by such diﬀerences, are clearly not new or a modern phenomenon. However, cultural diﬀerences and their impact remain an ongoing area of concern, as noted by Punnett and Shenkar (2004, p. 7): ‘we selected the topic of culture for its ongoing centrality in international management research and for the superﬁciality with which this subject is handled in other disciplines’. We found in our study of successful women that even while they were quite similar in many ways, they often expressed values which distinguished one national group from another, as the following examples illustrate. We see these diﬀerences as reﬂecting their cultural backgrounds, while the similarities reﬂect the drives that led them to be successful, in spite of obstacles. The women from Barbados, Jamaica and St Vincent in the English-speaking Caribbean all expressed a high need for achievement and early accomplishments, but the Jamaicans often said that their...
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